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Alanna McAdie, Yosuke Mino, and RWB School Recreational Division Students in the Nutcracker. Photo: Samanta Katz

Review: Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Nutcracker at the National Arts Centre—until 12.08.19

By Madeline Paiva on December 7, 2019

Joined by the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Nutcracker is a stunning rendition of the Christmas classic. RWB brings an immersive and elegant Nutcracker steeped in Canadiana with Mounted Police, Parliament Hill, and Hudson’s Bay merchandise. Its Canadian roots are evident and make for an ever more sincere experience.

Before the performance began, there was very nice introduction from Artistic Director André Lewis. He closed his speech with a warm “please let us know what you think, but I think you are in for a real treat!” There were a lot of excited children in the audience, some in dress clothes and tutus!

The top of the show is a winter hockey game. There are dancers on ice skate rollerblades! There are a few comedic falls on the ice that set a light tone for the show. The skating quickly turns into getting ready for a party. There is a liveliness and busyness—in a good way—to the opening of the show. It feels like a family gathering—eating, playing with toys, and being merry.

The set design is so well-thought out and beautiful, conveying the lavishness of the holiday party and the opulence of Clara’s dreams. The interior is rich and elegant with gorgeous paired dancing in the ball scene.

The set design is so well-thought out and beautiful, conveying the lavishness of the holiday party and the opulence of Clara’s dreams. The interior is rich and elegant with gorgeous paired dancing in the ball scene. The costuming is bright, layered and ruffled, once again, playing to the lavishness of the holiday season. The growing Christmas tree is a real sight to see. The major scene and set changes are hidden by a beautiful, shining white curtain that feels reminiscent of a fresh snow fall. The dreamscape-y Tchaikovsky score paired with the apt set design elevates the performance.

Photo: Vince Pahkala

The performance is a dream come true; the dancers are intensely talented and the age-range is phenomenal. When I spoke with André Lewis, he mentioned the inclusion of children, teenagers and adults, and they were all a treat to watch. From the small polar bears (some of whom I got to see after the show), to the little angels, the children really stole the show. The sheer talent in the young dancers is something to note; don’t be surprised if you see them dancing in the near future!

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There are a few comedic appearances by the big bear, who remains unnoticed to the rest of the dances for most of his appearance. He sits beside the tree with a stolen cake, eating to his heart’s content. There was a lot of excitement from the crowd as the bear lurked in the background. The children were giggling while the bear was being naughty. He rode a scooter across the stage, sat in the chairs, and ate a large chocolate cake! He does, however, get chased after with a broom off stage.

This wholesome family show is performed so beautifully from the set design, to the snowfall, to the dancing. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is phenomenal and their Nutcracker is a must-see.

The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies is my absolute favourite part, both in score and dance. The NAC Orchestra performs the piece with such perfection, beautifully complimenting the dance. Clara looks like a dancer straight out of a music box. It is a lovely section of the dance, and is mostly en pointe, performed with such precision and elegance.

The show ends outside, with the family playing in the snow. The young son comes out into the fresh snow wrapped in a Hudson’s Bay blanket. This wholesome family show is performed so beautifully from the set design, to the snowfall, to the dancing. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is phenomenal and their Nutcracker is a must-see. Be sure to also catch them also at the end of January for The Wizard of Oz.


The Royal Winnipeg Ballet performs Nutcracker at the National Arts Centre December 4th through 8th. There are evening shows at 7pm, on the 4th-8th, and a 1:30pm matinee on the 7th and 8th. Performance runs approximately 2 hours and 4 minutes, including intermission. Tickets range from $42-$125. Very limited tickets are available here. Student Tickets are available for this performance.